Frontera Fund News Trump Watch

Will Trump Curb the Import of Fashion Models or Just Tech Workers?

Written by Carmen Cornejo

The uncertainty of the Trump presidency is hitting not only DACA-DREAMers and undocumented immigrants but ironically, H-1B visa recipients and the multimillionaire, multi-billionaire companies that hire them...and fashion models?

H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States which allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Often, H-1B visa beneficiaries found ways to be sponsored for green cards by the companies that employ them, increasing the labor pool of highly skilled workers in the country.

These specialized occupations include science and technology professions, such biotechnology, chemistry, architecture, engineering, mathematics, physical sciences, medicine and computer programming, and require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum. Companies like Google, Microsoft, Intel, etc. are well known H-1B employers, but the list of employers is topped by Infosys, a company which has been accused of using these visas to outsource jobs from the USA.  Actually, the top 10 recipients of H-1B visas in 2015 were all outsourcing firms, according to data compiled by the IEEE-USA, a professional organization representing U.S. electrical engineers.

Critics of the current system say outsourcing firms flood the system with mass applications, taking the lion share of the limited number of visas allocated each year. For instance, more than 60 percent of the U.S. employees of Indian outsourcing firm Infosys (INFY.NS) are H-1B holders.

President-elect Trump’s transition team has been having closed doors meetings with high-tech industry representatives considering ways to modify the visa program.

The H-1B Visa program remain popular. USCIS reports that the 2017 H-1B visa cap has already being reached.  The cap is set at 65,000 for the general category and 20,000 for the advance-degree exception.  H-1B visas are also awarded through a computer-generated process, also known as the lottery, which randomly selects the petitions needed to meet the caps.

According to Reuters, Trump’s policy analysts are proposing to get rid of the existing lottery system, and favor visa petitions that pay the highest salaries. But in reality, as many Trump-related positions on issues, nobody knows what the changes will be if anything.

It is interesting to be reminded that President-Elect Trump’s business enterprises have also used the H1B visa program to hire, not engineers or computer wizards but fashion models.